KERRI'S WAR (Volume 3 of The King Trilogy)

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Chapter 4

Iacardi & Sons was decimated. Of the company’s 342 New York employees, only four survived the 911 attacks. Even Charles Iacardi, the chairman of the board was gone. His younger brother, Louis, board member, also perished. By the grace of God, three of Iacardi’s New York traders had been participating in a show and tell session at the company’s London, England offices on that date. Their survival was no more than a fortunate quirk of timing. All 103 of Iacardi’s London employees were shocked and saddened, but still alive. Kerri, saved by a virus, was devastated and saddened beyond all consolation. First came the shock, next the anguish, then the guilt. So many of her friends, colleagues and co-workers were gone. Try as she could to think about the future of the company, her concern for the families and loved ones of the victims eclipsed any consideration of the future.

The death of Miles Dennis hurt most of all. She simply owed her success to that man. He had given her a start at Iacardi. He had believed in her, and never wavered. He had encouraged and tutored her, always there for her when she was down, listening to her, drying her tears whenever she needed a shoulder to cry on, always willing to listen and advise, yet never pretending to have all the answers. He had given her a place to live when she lost her marriage. Her sympathies cried out for the families of all of the 911 victims, screamed for those of the Iacardi employees, but her heart was broken for Andrea Dennis and her two grown daughters. Miles and Andrea were high school sweethearts, and to the end their love for each other had been unshakable, an inspiration to Kerri. Privately, she had envied Andrea, and for so long had wished that she could have been so fortunate at love. She cursed fate for having ended such a beautiful relationship, so suddenly, so brutally.

Kerri’s health improved on Wednesday but the anguish persisted. Into the abyss of the foreseeable future her preoccupation would be visitations and funerals. Beyond and during that time frame would be the gargantuan effort of salvaging Iacardi & Sons. Even though all of the digital records of the firm, its trades and financial activity had been saved on a remote server in a New Jersey co-location facility, most of the company’s key employees were no longer alive.

She telephoned her father, always a tower of strength whenever she needed it, and she needed it now. She had called him the previous morning to assure him she was alive and to describe the horror of her experience.

“You okay?” Mike asked.

“No, but thanks for asking. Where are you?”

“Muskoka. Karen and I are watching a beautiful sunset as I speak... What are you going to do? Have you made any decisions?”

Tears flooded Kerri’s eyes. She knew what she had to do, but uncertainty and doubt clouded her view. So much had happened in the previous thirty-two hours. Processing the myriad of implications seemed impossible. “I don’t know. The only thing I know for sure is that I need to talk to you, soon, and with no background noise.”

“Then come to Muskoka. It’ll give you a chance to look at everything from the outside in. Karen and I are going to be here until Monday morning.”

It was an offer Kerri couldn’t refuse. “Thanks, dad. If the F.A.A. allows me, I’ll take the company plane to Bracebridge on Friday afternoon. I’ll phone and give you an E.T.A. My conscience tells me to stay here, but I’ve just got to get away.”

“I’ll be there to pick you up. I love you.”

“Me too you.”

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